One of the things that has really bothered me since Thomas died (and during the ensuing childless-but-not-for-lack-of-trying-and-trying-and-trying years) is the way I've felt about other people's pregnancies. I have been riddled with guilt for feeling a whole host of unpleasant things upon hearing pregnancy announcements and upon seeing bulging belly after belly after belly all around me (quite literally, since my neighbourhood is now on its second baby boom since Thomas died).
The intensity has lessened. The shock isn't quite the same. And there is now real joy that I think - or at least I hope - actually comes across when a friend tells me she's pregnant. Because I feel that now. I really do.
But yeah, I still feel some of the bad stuff too. And it still makes me feel guilty as sin every single time.
I've tried to rationalize it, and that usually works like a too small band-aid for a little while. I tell myself that I held my dying child in my arms and kissed him goodbye in a cluttered hospital office, and so it's okay for someone else's happy news about their own live, growing child to reduce me to tears in the privacy of my own quiet little bedroom. I tell myself that, but I don't always believe it.
It seems wrong to feel like I've been drop-kicked in the gut when someone else tells me news that I know (in a way thousands upon thousands of women never will) is such a blessing.
And I wonder each time when the hell that kick will stop coming. Or at the very least when the guilt that follows will ever go away and leave me alone.
I wonder if it'll be when menopause sets in - when I'm no longer physically able to bear my own children. Or if we have another child. Or if we adopt.
I just wonder if this particular hurt and guilt will ever go away.
I came across another blogger's musings on this subject last week. She had an epiphany about the whole thing after hearing the news of a 43-year old friend's pregnancy after just three months of trying. Unassisted.
She said that she did feel true joy at her friend's news, but at the same time she had the unsettling notion that the gods were laughing at her (she's had several losses and undergone every fertility treatment under the sun).
And then (and this is the good part) she realized that it was okay. Okay. Because the way she was feeling wasn't about any ill will she felt towards her friend. It was, as she said, all about her.
WHY DIDN'T I THINK OF THIS??? It's so simple. And it makes such perfect sense.
I don't begrudge my friends their children - their shot at parenthood - nor do I want anyone I know to suffer the loss of a child. I don't. I want them to be happy and to have as many children as their little hearts desire. I do. I really do.
It just happens that the flip side of all that good stuff happening to other people is a whole bunch of not-so-nice emotions for me. Happy news reminds me of my sadness. But it's about me. It's about my sorrow. It's the flood of memories that wash over me, the "what ifs", the "I wishes"...
They're about me. They're about Thomas, my other two angels and the babies I just can't seem to make.
The feelings have nothing to do with anyone else but us, and therefore I can have all of them, theoretically, guilt-free.
And so I'm going to work on that. I have enough guilt crawling the walls of my brain without holding on to any more.
Let's see if this works, shall we?